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Bristol councillor says £35m set aside for cycling would be better spent on rail

Conservative standing as MP at next year’s general election says plans “unrealistic” and “too proscriptive”

A Conservative councillor in Bristol has said that £35 million earmarked to be spent on cycling in the city would be better invested in improving local rail services instead.

The southwest city last week unveiled ambitious plans to get 20 per cent of commuter trips there undertaken by bicycle by 2020.

Bristol City Council will spend £7 million a year over the next five years, the annual equivalent of £16 per head of its population, to try and realise its vision.

But Councillor Claire Hiscott, parliamentary candidate for the Conservative Party in the Bristol West constituency at next year’s general election, has described the council’s cycling strategy as “too proscriptive” and “unrealistic,” reports the Bristol Post.

She said: “Personally, I am very enthusiastic about cycling and welcome more being done to promote it and the creation of segregated routes across the city, to enable all those who choose to get around in this way to feel safer.

“However, I think we have to face the reality that cycling will never suit a majority of commuters or provide a solution to Bristol’s traffic congestion, and I fear the wholesale implementation of this plan might even make matters worse.

“The whole tone and tenor of this draft document also reads rather too proscriptive.

“Sadly, I think the idea of spending £7 million per year on cycling is unrealistic – particularly should problems arise in securing future government grants or external funding.

“If the mayor has money to spare in his transport budget, then I would prefer this was put towards greater investment in urban rail – a far more practical means of mass transit than the bicycle,” she added.

The plans announced last week aim to improve cycling provision in the city, as well as implementing Bristol Cycling Campaign’s Cycling Manifesto, formally adopted as council policy.

They include implementing ‘quietway’ and segregated cycle lanes, and are aimed at providing an economic stimulus for the city.

Mayor of Bristol George Ferguson said: "Cycling is good for the economy. A healthy workforce, which arrives to work less stressed and on time, is better for productivity and good health.

“I am confident that this document will help Bristol attract more funding to the city for improvements as it gives us the benefit of a clearly defined framework."

The Bristol cycling plan remains open for consultation until 11 August 2014.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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